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January 31, 2013

Teens find surprising new hangout at NHS media center

NHS media center

NEWBURYPORT — NHS English Teacher Susie Galvin can’t keep her students away from the school library.

Ever since the space reopened this school year, boasting sleek new design features and furnishings, a professional art studio space, comfy armchair enclaves, a sprawling state-of-the-art Mac lab and designated quiet and not-so-quiet spaces to catch up on homework or chat with friends, her kids have been coming up with every excuse in the book to spend more time there.

But Galvin doesn’t mind. She and her colleagues are happy to offer their students a pass to head down to the renovated 21st century media center. They’re just a little surprised at the way kids are clamoring to hang out there, and thrilled that in this day and age the old school library model could be reborn into something so relevant to today’s teens.

“This space has become the hub of teaching and learning at Newburyport High School,” said Principal Mike Parent, speaking to nearly 200 people who turned out for the library’s official opening Monday night. “In financial worlds, the rate of return does not materialize for some time, but I can attest that the return on this investment has been instantaneous and dramatic.”

With a gift of $100,000 from the Institution for Savings, through the Newburyport Education Foundation, a gift of $45,000 from the Mary Alice Arakalian Foundation for furnishings and an $8,000 gift from the Class of 1953 that puts an array of iPads at students’ fingertips, the library underwent a creative redesign last summer.

Under the direction of new librarian Lynn Cote, whose vision and energy drove the fundraising effort, floor to ceiling book stacks were halved or cleared out to create one big open space, and dry wall went in to construct differentiated learning and studying spaces like the soundproof Mac Lab, collaborative classroom area, the high top table café and sitting stations that inspire small groups to study and brainstorm within the stacks.

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